[Editorial Analysis] For the farmer, things to Do

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture

Prelims level: agricultural income level

Mains level: Economic growth and development

Context

• Though more than 86 per cent farmers are small and marginal in India (Agriculture Census, 2015-16) farm size and productivity have an inverse relationship.

• Despite small farm sizes, with better quality inputs and hard work combined with the scientific management of farming, productivity and production have gone up.

• However, ensuring food security for the country through their hard work and increased production has not meant greater income and prosperity for the farmers.

• How to increase the income of farmers is the central question and several possible solutions are being discussed in the policy circles.

Possibilities for raising the agricultural income level

• Reduction in cost of cultivation, increase in productivity and production, and remunerative price for produce are the three fundamental sutras for a farmer’s prosperity.

• First, the price of seeds is of critical importance in agriculture carrier of scientific research and advancement.

• Newer varieties are high yielding and also pest and disease resistant.

• The newer seeds affordable and accessible for the farmers.
• The price of hybrid seeds has been going up and in the case of vegetables, it is actually prohibitive.

• This is where the role of research becomes important.

• Scientists must develop open pollinated varieties with better yields.

• Second, Scientists can be allowed to get a royalty from the private sector in order to incentivise them to continue doing high-end research but for the public sector, it should come free in order to make the fruits of science available to the farmers at a reasonable and affordable price.

• Third, access to formal credit should be made available to all farmers.

• Fourth, direct investment subsidy to the farmers. Motivate the farmer to grow millets in a water-scarce area rather than paddy or sugarcane, which further deplete the water table.

• Fifth, allowing the leasing of land benefits of various schemes to the real cultivator rather than the landowner.

Way forward

• Today, most sharecroppers are not able to access the various benefits extended by the government whether it is crop insurance, accident insurance or different input subsidies.

• Finally, the unviable size of landholdings in most states.

• As per Agriculture Census data, the average landholding size in India came down from 2.28 ha in 1970-71 to 1.08 ha in 2015-16.

• In some of the densely populated states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the average landholding size is 0.73 ha and 0.39 ha, respectively.

• This implies that more than 50 per cent of farmers have less than 0.73 hectares of land in UP and less than 0.39 hectares of land in Bihar respectively.

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Prelims Questions:

Q.1) Consider the following matches and find out the incorrect one?

A. Sangai- Keibul Lamjao National Park

B. Black Buck-Endangered

C. Hangul- Dachigam National Park

D. Indian Pangolin- Near-threatened

Correct Answer: B

Mains Questions:

Q.1) Briefly explain the immediate measures by which poor conditions of farmers can be improved significantly.

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